The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights on Friday expressed concern over the human rights situation in Bangladesh before, during and after the recent elections held on 30 December and called on its authorities to take urgent measures to prevent further reprisals.
‘We call on the authorities to take urgent measures to prevent further reprisals, and to ensure that law enforcement authorities exercise their powers strictly in accordance with the rule of law and principles of legality and proportionality,’ said Ravina Shamdasani, the spokesperson at the UN human rights office, better known as OHCHR, in a press briefing at UN office in Geneva.
The OHCHR came up with the statement just five days after the 11th parliamentary elections held in Bangladesh amid tight security, large scale arrests of oppositional candidates, leaders and organisers, and marred by violence that left 20 people killed.
The spokesperson said, ‘We urge the authorities to carry out prompt, independent, impartial and effective investigations into all alleged acts of violence and human rights violations related to the elections with a view to holding accountable those responsible, regardless of their political affiliations,’
The UN right commission also called on the National Human Rights Commission to play ‘an independent and proactive role’.
It was concerned about violence and alleged human rights violations in Bangladesh before, during and after the recent elections on 30 December.
In the statement, Ravina Shamdasani said there were credible reports of fatalities and numerous injuries on polling day alone.
‘There are worrying indications that reprisals have continued to take place, notably against the political opposition, including physical attacks and ill-treatment, arbitrary arrests, harassment, disappearances and filing of criminal cases,’ it stated.
She said reports suggested that violent attacks and intimidation, including against minorities, had been disproportionately carried out by ruling party activists, at times with complicity or involvement of law enforcement officers.
The UN Human Rights office stated there were troubling reports of media professionals being intimidated, injured and having their property damaged, as well as other constraints that have hindered free and public reporting on the elections.
At least two journalists were arrested under the Digital Security Act in relation to their reporting on the election.
It also said the space for human rights defenders and organisations, political opposition members and interested members of the public seeking to speak out about the election was being restricted.
It further said there were reports of police breaking up recent peaceful public protests calling for a re-election, and reports of arrests and cases filed under laws like Digital Security Act.